Sifelani Tsiko Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe will this month host the second Non-Aligned Movement Science and Technology technical meeting on industrial biotechnology to promote value addition and beneficiation among member states.

Running under the theme “Driving Value Addition and Beneficiation”, the technical meeting will be held in Harare. from August 22-24.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development permanent secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga said recently that the technical meeting was expected to set the tone and shape the implementation of the new NAM agenda to promote value addition and beneficiation through the transfer and application of biotechnology.

“We are pleased to host the technical meeting here,” he said. “It’s a testimony of the recognition that Zimbabwe enjoys when it comes to South-South co-operation.

“As a country we are spearheading biotechnology industrialisation. We are committed to promoting leadership in this field. Our scientists will interact with some of the best experts in the field of biotechnology in the world.”

More than 40 technical experts drawn from NAM will take the opportunity to promote the sharing of best practices in the field of industrial biotechnology to spur value addition and beneficiation.

Zimbabwe won the bid to host the second NAM S&T technical meeting on industrial biotechnology in August 2017.

The Centre for Science and Technology of Non-Aligned and other developing countries (NAM S&T Centre) in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Government and the National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe are organising the meeting.

The three-day meeting also seeks to also strengthen networking and collaboration in the field of biotechnology to enhance technology transfer and business opportunities.

Experts are also expected to discuss how the application of industrial biotechnology can drive value addition and beneficiation, as well as how national and regional centres for development and transfer of technology can established.

Expectations are also high that technical experts will provide insight, education and awareness on technologies that may be exploited by producers for processing raw materials in bio-based products of economic importance.

Experts say industrial biotechnology is a set of practices that use living cells (such as bacteria, yeast, algae) or component of cells like enzymes, to generate industrial products and processes.

Some examples include bread making, beer brewing, yoghurt making, cheese making, energy production of biogas and ethanol.

It is also used to produce antibodies, vaccines, diagnostic kits and therapy.

The technical meeting is expected to attract other delegates from NAM member states, local universities and independent research organisations, as well as the private sector.

Zimbabwe and other NAM countries acknowledge the important role that industrial biotechnology plays in the conversion of natural resources into value added products of benefit to humans.

“These are the tools we want to promote in order to drive industrialisation which is now high on the agenda of NAM, the African Union and SADC,” said Prof Gudyanga.

“Biotechnology industrialisation complements the technical agendas. It complements and enhances Zim-Asset and it’s in line with the AU’s Agenda 2063 as well as the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063.”

Zimbabwe has included value addition and beneficiation of raw materials into its current economic blue print – Zim-Asset.

NAM was established in 1961, originally as an alliance of newly independent Afro-Asian states to counter a world divided by antagonism between the United States and the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

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